Sunday, November 28, 2010

Baking at My Friends' House, Without Any of My Equipment!

Recently, I stayed at the home of good friends, while making a trip back to Los Angeles.  I also stayed with them about 6 months ago, and asked if I could use their kitchen then.  Baking relieves stress for me and gives me the feeling of doing something special for friends. I was happy that they enjoyed what I did so much!

This time, one of the daughters quickly requested "Can you make some of that chocolate chip challah again?"  Loving the fact that she liked it so much, I put that on my list!  Everyone seems to love what I bake or cook, and I love an appreciative audience!

Baking in their kitchen calls for creativity on my part.  I have to figure out what's available, and "make do."  I brought my Weight Watcher food scale (this one only goes up to 2 pounds) on trips. 

However, I didn't have dough buckets, oven thermometer, digital thermometer, multiple baking sheets, dutch oven, tea towels, or a good set of measuring spoons/cups.  Ok, there are measuring spoons, but the writing rubbed off--I guessed which one is a teaspoon.  Next time, I might write the measurement with a Sharpie.

Their refrigerator space is at a premium, and we quickly loaded it up with goodies for the week.

But it was so much fun! 

I started off by making raisin challah.  In the AB in 5 book, the recipe says to roll out the dough, sprinkle with raisins , roll the dough into a log....

Handwise tip--A faster way is to add the raisins to the flour when making the dough.  The raisins become coated with the flour and mix into the dough evenly.

A half batch of challah raisin dough was made.  A large stockpot was used for mixing the dough and storing it in the refrigerator.  It was a real juggling act to find room in the refrigerator for such a large pot!

The next morning, I quickly made the braid, added egg wash, and sprinkled sugar on top.  Because I'm used to the Eastern Time Zone, I was awake and in the kitchen long before anyone else was awake. They are used to Pacific Time Zone, so I had plenty of time. They woke up to freshly baked bread!

Raisin challah

Since their daughter wanted something with chocolate chips, I decided next to make glazed rolls especially for her.  In the AB5 book, the recipe says to roll out the dough, sprinkle with chips and sugar, and roll the dough into a log.  I did that, and then cut off 2 inch slices of dough for the rolls.  They were baked in a 9 inch cake pan.

After the rolls were cooled, I made a confectioner's sugar glaze for the rolls.  I've used more confectioner's sugar in the past few years than I've ever used before (I moved to the South!).

Chocolate Chip Glazed Rolls
As mentioned before, refrigerator space is at a premium at this house.  So I decided that my next bread with be the Jim Lahey Walnut and Raisin Bread--no fridge space needed.  This is one of my favorite breads, and I'm glad I brought the recipe.

This dough mixed quickly, and sat on the counter overnight.  No refrigeration, just time, is needed

My friend didn't have the 5qt dutch oven that is recommended for this bread.  She had some shiny-new pyrex casseroles, which were about 3qt.  I took a risk that I could divide up the dough and make 2 loaves from each batch.

This is tricky because the recipe calls for the wet dough to be plopped onto a tea towel for the last rise.  There weren't any tea towels.  I had one "sort of tea towel" and one cotton placemat.  Hey, it worked out!

I wasn't sure the pyrex would hold up in a 450 degree oven, so I began by baking the first loaves longer at 400 degrees.  The pyrex were so new looking, I was afraid to use them in a hot oven.

Jim Lahey's Walnut & Raisin Bread

The loaves were just great, even without the digital thermometer to test if they were done.  In fact, baking this way may have answered why my loaves were damp in my dutch oven at home.  It's possible that my 3.5qt dutch oven is too small for a full batch.  There's plenty of room, but Jim Lahey recommends a 4.5 to 5 qt size.  Maybe it needs room to steam?

I also brought sourdough baguettes from home:

100% Wild Yeast Sourdough Bread
They were part of a dinner consisting of Mexican Lasagne (layers of tortillas, corn, refried beans, salsa, and olives), salad, and Spanish rice.  It was fun sitting down for a meal with my friends.

By the way, my friend says that the "magic eraser" removed any stains from the bread baking.  But it also erased the memories... 

I'm including a video of my favorite baking buddy while baking in their home.  Molly never left my side while in the kitchen. What an optimist, since I never dropped any crumbs! We had to shoo her away from the hot oven.  She's still a puppy and kept sniffing at the oven door when I opened it.

We had a great time, and I have been invited back again.  Yaay!  

Only, next time, I am putting together a "baker's travel kit!"  I'll take one of those small roll-type toiletry bags, and add various baking items--small scale, measuring spoons, flat digital baking thermometer, tea towels, and any special ingredients.  I'm not sure about measuring cups, because they aren't very flat.

What would you put in a travel baking/cooking kit?  This may be a good topic for discussion, and I hope you will leave a comment including that below.

Thanks for stopping by, and visit with me again soon!



  1. I enjoyed your adventure. I think for me in a travel kit I like my measuring spoons, danish whisk and bread knife, most other things I can work around.

  2. Good ideas, Carolyn. My friend didn't have any flour sack or tea towels, and I'd bring those in my kit.

    Bread knife is a good idea. I don't think my friend has a serrated knife.

    As a thank you gift, I told my friend I'd buy her a dutch oven. They can use that for stews, too!

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